Review: Press Open or to One Side? (133)

Welcome back to Vals Quilting, today I want to talk about pressing seams open or to one side. 

I was taught to press seams to one side generally to the dark and to nest the seams when connecting blocks together, this seems to be the proper way or the way most quilters sew.

A year or so ago I was reading about quilters starting to press seams open, then I was struggling with a complicated block and my friend Beth said to press my seams open and boy did that ever make a difference. Less bulk, it lays so much flatter especially when you have multiple pieces.

I also had the privilege recently to take a lecture or two and a workshop by Fun Quilts, Bill Kerr and they press their seams open and always have. They do this to relieve bulk. If they have no concerns about pressing their seams open and commissioning their quilts in upwards of $5000K they must be onto something….

There was some debate recently at a quilt guild meeting regarding this. One lady mentioned that pressing the seams open may make the seam vulnerable, another person agreed but if you think about it, Seamstresses and Sewers press their seams open all of the time to relieve bulk. Some sewers will finish their seams in  “french” style or zigzag over the seam allowances to ensure they are secure or even use a serger so the seam allowance doesn’t become frayed. You likely wouldn’t use a serger when quilting because this will definitely add bulk to the seam and plus you will be quilting through all 3 layers to finish the quilt and secure the blocks in place at the end.

I was taught to sew pressing the seams open, thanks Susan.

I was taught to press my seams to one side when quilting, thanks to all of you quilting experts and teachers out there 🙂

I’ve decided to press seams open and or to press in the direction that will make my block sit flat and to reduce bulk, if that means to press to one side, I will do that, if that means to press the seam open, I will do that.

Since I’ve started teaching with Chinook Learning Services, I’ve decided to teach my students to press their seams open, so far 🙂

What do you do? Press Open or to one side and Why?

Until next time, have a happy and creative day!



9 Replies to “Review: Press Open or to One Side? (133)”

  1. Most of the classes I’ve taken teach to press to one side. It does make it easy to match up seams. More recently though I was working on a block and had a lot of bulk. I could not imagine trying to quilt through that so I pressed the major seams on that open. I don’t think there is a right or wrong but finding what works best for you or best for what you’re working on.

  2. I press seams to one side, because that’s the way I learned. I continue to do it in order to make it easier to "nest" seams when sewing, but I also understood that it was done to minimize the possibility that batting would migrate through the seam.

  3. I agree with Caroline. I have always pressed my quilting seams to one side which may still be better for some types of batting. Also, if you like to do "stich-in-the-ditch" quilting, if seams are pressed open, you would only be catching the threads between the blocks and no fabric. All things to keep in mind as you make your blocks, whichever way you choose.

  4. Hi Ladies, very interesting comments and thanks for the feedback. Maybe if you do stitch in the ditch when doing your quilting this may pose a problem for you but for the most part it should be good to go 🙂

  5. I have always pressed my quilt seams to the darker sided fabric. You are the first person I have heard say press them open.

    Since I was 13 I have always sewed most of my own clothes and always always pressed my seams open. I have never had an issue with seams being weak. It was only when I got a serger that I started pressing my clothing seams in one direction.

    I plan to use the open seam method of pressing quilting seams for my pinwheel blocks on the A Kitten’s Tale quilt. I find it’s really hard to work with the bulkiness of the fabric in the middle. I think it’s a great idea and definitely worth looking at. You for sure wouldn’t have to worry about dark side or light side when working with similar fabrics and then running into having to re-press because you don’t get the nesting when sewing the pieces together (that frustrates me to no end).

    So for me, to hear that big quilters do it too, that seals the deal for me. I was really hesitant up till you posted this because when I first learned quilting that was one of the RULES. LOL

  6. I was taught to press the seams towards one side. That is still my prefered method. I’m lazy, so I avoid pinning where ever possible so I like the accuracy this method gives without pinning.

    We’ve recently been having this debate in our guild. (The funny things quilters find facinating.)

    The one thing that really stuck with me, is you need to think about how you’re going to quilt it before you decide how to press it. If you press your seams open you shouldn’t stitch in the ditch. It means that your quilting would be putting that much more stress on your thread.

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